As a massive exodus drained the Jewish communities from Muslim-Arab countries, starting just after World War II a large number of them migrated in cosmopolitan Montréal. This paper offers a new perspective on their displacement, inquiring on individual narratives of their reconstruction of shared and unshared memories. In this post-Shoah and post-colonial migration, how have these departures been represented within individual memory? What are the elements that have been shared and others hidden? And what are the consequences of uprooting within the individual realm? Using an oral history methodology, the life stories of Sephardic Jews reveal a paradigm present in certain individuals of an ever-present fear and emotional burden, as well as an ability to maintain their agency over their own trajectory. Through the sharing of memories enabled by the project Life stories of Montrealers displaced by war, genocide and human rights violation, I will look at four narratives from four individuals that demonstrate these lingering emotions of fear, anger and discontent. By engaging with usually unshared memories, information is revealed on the personal significance of massive displacement and hopeful for future reconciliation with a fragmented past.

issue 04 / November 2012 by Sara Cohen Fournier